The IANA Stewardship Transition process (IST) was discussed extensively both at the the ICANN Studienkreis and and the Internet Governance Forum 2014. The ICANN Studienkreis is a yearly program organized in Europe where high level experts on ICANN issues are brought together to discuss subjects related to Internet governance and the development of ICANN. This year’s meeting was held in Sofia, Bulgaria from 28-19 August. A panel discussion at the Studienkreis included experts from the US government, the ICANN Government Advisory Committee (GAC), the European Regional Internet Registry (RIR) responsible for the assignment of IP addresses to European ISPs and from Verisign responsible for .com and for maintenance of the root zone for the internet. I was privileged to be invited as the moderator of this discussion.
The Internet Governance Forum, is a multistakeholder process that was initiated by the United Nations in 2005 with a 5 year mandate that was renewed for another 5 years in 2009. Each year the IGF holds an annual meeting where they bring together the various stakeholders in the Internet ecosystem to discuss a multitude of issues. This year’s meeting welcomed over 3000 participants from around the world and from all stakeholder groups including Academia, Business, Civil society, Government, and the Internet technical community.
One of the presentations at the Studienkreis was a very stern warning from one of the more senior members of the community, David Maher from Public Interest Registry. His talk on Accountability and Redress has been published on Circleid. This talk did a very good job of expressing the viewpoint of many of the discussants at both meetings regarding ICANN and accountability. It starts out with :
In ICANN circles these days, accountability is the buzz word. Nearly everybody is talking about it. Generally everybody is in favor of it, but that’s where the agreement ends. This paper urges action by ICANN to provide a means for redress of grievances as an essential element of accountability.
He went on to explain the system of redress at ICANN:
Independent third party review was the procedure invoked by ICM. At the time ICM requested review, in June 2008, the standard of review was simple and straightforward:
“Requests for such independent review shall be referred to an Independent Review Panel (“IRP”), which shall be charged with comparing contested actions of the Board to the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, and with declaring whether the Board has acted consistently with the provisions of those Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.”
Effective in April 2013, the ICANN Board made a number of significant changes in the standard of review. First, requests for review are now referred to an Independent Review Process Panel (emphasis added). In other words, only the process is subject to review, not the real question whether the Board acted consistently with the ICANN articles and bylaws.
After discussing some of the failures of the approach taken by the Board on the issue of redress, the talk ended with:
The unanimous statement by the constituencies and stakeholder groups making up the GNSO put it clearly:
“The entire GNSO join together today calling for the Board to support community creation of an independent accountability mechanism that provides meaningful review and adequate redress for those harmed by ICANN action or inaction in contravention of an agreed upon compact with the community.
The sentiment expressed at the Studienkreis by Maher was repeated again and again in many different ways in meetings throughout the Studienkreis meeting as well as those held during IGF 2014.
There were several sessions held at IGF 2014 on the IANA Stewardship Transition and on Accountability. Two sessions included a member of the dotgay staff. These sessions have been recorded are are available:
- Accountability in Multistakeholder Governance Regime ICANN
- Main/focus Sessions: IANA Functions: NTIA’s Stewardship
Given the pervasive sentiment that ICANN currently provided weak accountability mechanisms, the discussion on the IANA Stewardship transition circled back to the belief that any plan for transition of the NTIA stewardship for IANA depended on adequate methods of redress and oversight for IANA, and could not proceed unless those issues were resolved. One proposed solution, the creation of a new multistakeholder oversight body was questioned on its accountability attributes. It was asked, “to whom would such a oversight body be accountable,” given that representative structures are still difficult to define in the current multistakeholder model. The problem was termed the infinite regress of accountability. As the discussions went on, suggestions were made for defining accessible methods of binding arbitration to resolve blocking issues. The discussion are ongoing and there are many devils in the design details of any solution. As these discussions proceed, they will be reported on this site. It should be noted that at least two of the operational communities, the protocol parameters and the IP addressing, have argued that their accountability mechanisms are sufficient and do not need to be improved. There are many members of the global community who take issue with this assertion. The discussions continue and there is plenty of opportunity for comment by members of our community.
(It is worth mentoning that the IANA/ICANN issue was but one of the themes discussed at the IGF meeting. Further entries will touch on some of those issues and pointers to some of the better community blogs written on the subject of the meeting will be provided. In the meantime, all of the sessions for the IGF are being made available. More of the sessions are added as time goes on.)
Updates on the Processes
The work has begun on the two parallel but connected processes; IANA Stewardship and ICANN Accountability.
The IANA Stewardship Coordination Group has held several meetings since it was established. It has completed its charter and a request for Transition Proposals and has released a suggested process timeline. It has organized itself around the 3 silos representing the three main IANA functions: Domain Names, IP addresses (IPv4 and IPv6) and protocol parameters. Each of the operational communities, the solos:
- ICANN cross community working group (CWG) for names such a gTLDs and ccTLDs. A call for membership in this group will go out shortly.
- The Numbers Resource organization (NRO) and the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) for IP addresses and autonomous system numbers.
- The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) for protocol parameters
have begun their work on producing their recommendations on various email lists.
Additionally, there will be calls for comments from the global Internet community. The ICG charter is quite specific about how comments will be handled, they will be forwarded to the operational communities for processing. What is less certain is how they will handle cross-cutting solutions that may be offered either as proposals or as comments. When discussed, the answer is of the type: that bridge will be crossed if and when such a cross cutting proposal is offered. Time will tell. The process suggested by the ICG is that those who have ideas for cross-cutting mechanisms participate in all three of the operational group processes. I am currently following all of the efforts and will report on them as they begin to develop their solutions, with particular emphasis on the solutions discussed in the domain name space.
As discussed in an earlier blog on ICANN Accountability, the process of reviewing ICANN Accountability includes several components:
– A Community Coordination Group to work with the cross community group and to develop the recommendations on ways to resolve ICANN accountability problems, especially those that may result from the transition of the NTIA’s responsiblities.
The ICANN community, a union of all of the major ICANN structures, the Supporting Organizations and the Advisory Communities, had sent a letter objecting to the proposal proposed by ICANN. While there were many specific issues with were documented in a separate letter, the main issue was that the process was decided on by the ICANN Board and Staff without adequate consultation with the community. While technically there had been a community consultation as required, the resulting outcome was so different from anything that anyone expected, that a second community review should have been held. After meetings at the IGF between the community and the ICANN senior staff, ICANN staff agreed to open a 21 days comment period, which will end on 27 September. dotgay-community members should feel free to comment on these important issues and questions.
Another process that is ongoing is the Accountability and Governance Public Experts group has begun its work and has put out a call for experts to be considered for membership in the Accountability Coordination Group. Because of the open comment period on the process, they have extended the call until 30 September 2014, so now is the time to recommend experts from the international LGBTQI community who can be considered for membership. The experts need to have expertise in a subset of the following areas:
- Internet Technical Operations
- International Organizational Reviews
- Global Accountability Tools and Metrics
- Jurisprudence / Accountability Mechanisms
- Internet Consumer Protection (including privacy, human rights and property rights concerns)
- Economics (Marketplace and Competition)
- Global Ethics Frameworks
- Operational, Finance and Process
- Board Governance
- Risk Management
- Governmental Engagement and Relations
- Multistakeholder Governance
Nominees to the process need to have time to contribute to the process of making recommendation for ways to improve ICANN accountability.
A public webinar will be held on Monday, 15 September from 14:00 – 16:00 UTC on the Accountability process.
 ICM Regsitry used the IRP process to over turn the ruling by the ICANN against approving the .xxx registry.